Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trusting God with the size of your family

Recently, I was contacted via e-mail by a mother of four (expecting her 5th) who was asking me for some advice on homeschooling. As we wrote back and forth over the next several days, I was intrigued to find out about this lady's situation. If you are wondering whether you really are ready to have another baby, read this story and ask yourself if your situation would take near as much faith in God as this lady's, who at any time could be diagnosed again and find herself facing life-threatening conditions when she has five young children.

I love children, I'll be happy with as many as God chooses to give me. When I was 18 I was diagnosed with Lymphoma ( I was 3 months pregnant with my first daughter at that time) and received 8 months of chemotherapy. The doctors said I had to "terminate" the pregnancy and that if I was even able to carry her she'd have all kinds of physical deformities and mental retardation. I never once doubted that they were wrong. My daughter is beautiful and intelligent. They also said the chemo would leave me unable to have more children. Boy were they wrong about that too! It goes to show that they really don't know much of anything.

I was never sick, only extremely tired. One day I was sitting at a fast food drive thru, I think Dairy Queen, and happened to feel a small lump in my neck. I knew right away what it was, just sitting there. My stepdad had just died a couple of months before, and I knew things were going to get bad. Oh, let me tell you that my stepdad was in the Air Force and we spent years living right next to the flight line, where the planes take off and land. I also spent alot of time with him at work, right on the line. Well, my stepdad had died of some lung problems due to breathing in the fumes from the fuel. He was only 39. After he died we were all tested and the doc found some spots in my left lung, but said it was nothing to worry about. So 3 months went by and I found the lump in my neck. Another military doc said not to worry, but my then it was too late. I went to go see a 3rd doc who also said it was fine, but that since I was 3 months pregnant and stress is not a good thing, he would just remove it to make me happy. So they did and another month went by and I didn't hear anything and I pretty much stopped worrying. Then, one day I got the call - it was cancer and I had to start chemo now. Altogether 7 months had passed since they found the spots in my lung. By then the cancer had spread to my lungs, throat, left breast, and a tumor the size of a fist behind my heart, which could not be removed.

Anyway, I've been cancer free for 9 years now!

I think it is great that your family doesn't have to go to the doctors often. We are always in the ER. My 3 youngest have allergies, and sometimes they swell up very badly. Also, my 2 youngest have asthma, and often end up with breathing treatments. They get that from me, I never had allergies until I moved up here and now I'm allergic to almost every plant, tree, and grass native to the Pacific Northwest. It doesn't help that it is always damp here. My baby has had pneumonia 5 times now. It never ends. I can't count the times I've sat up on the couch watching her sleep to make sure she doesn't stop breathing. It's all worth it, though. To be perfectly honest, none of my kids has ever slept thru the night all at the same time. It doesn't help that my husband has worked nights until recently so they are all in the habit of waking up between 3 and 4 AM which is the time he usually would get home.

All the women I know think I'm crazy to want more, but I tend to think they are for not wanting children. Every day is an adventure, isn't it? I have so much fun just listening to the conversations they have between themselves.

Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Starting immediately, I will once again start allowing comments that are not anonymous. I will still be very selective about what comments get rejected. After all, this is MY site, and I don't feel the need to give every weirdo a platform.

Comments are rejected if they:

- criticize my husband, his preaching, or anything of that sort;
- contain inappropriate language or subject matter; and/or
- are left by a user who (a) discloses his profile and (b) has inappropriate content on the website that it would link to.

I have, and will continue to post comments that state a difference in opinion or challenge what I say, as long as it is not fulfilling one of the above disqualifying factors.

Here is a good example of what I get a lot and reject. This was written in response to my blog post on "Natural remedies for kidney problems":

Is it a sin to go to the doctor? Does it show a lack of faith? Or are you concerned a female nurse might take your husband's blood pressure? Or hand him a container and ask for a UA.

I hope he's doing better.

In the post, I mentioned at least twice that kidney problems should be checked out by a doctor if natural remedies fail to improve the situation within 24 hours, so the first two questions show how dumb this person is.

As far as the female nurse taking my husband's blood pressure: (1) Why would someone who has an infection need to have their blood pressure checked? This is a mostly needless ritual that doctors use because it makes them look so smart, even though it has no bearing on the patient's condition. You could have normal blood pressure with or without a kidney infection, or vice versa. (2) I guess a woman lying down in front of another man, naked from the waist down at best, with her legs in stirrups, is no different from a fully clothed man having his blood pressure checked through his sleeve by a female nurse, or being handed a container by her? The person asking this is either completely stupid or perverted, but my guess is both.

This person should try walking into Walgreens, going up to the pharmacy, and lying down on the floor naked. After all, people get their blood pressure checked by the little machines there all the time, and an ob/gyn exam is no different, right!?!

And thanks for asking, but in spite of my bumbling attempts at medicine my husband is recovering speedily and well. In fact, he spent the last two days in Texas working long hours. All without seeing a doctor or using antibiotics.

It's that time of year again!

No, not taxes, that's over! I am talking about "Back to School" time. For those of us homeschooling, now is the time to start thinking about what curriculum to use come fall, and to start gathering those materials.

Recently, I have been asked by several different ladies what my recommendations in this area are, and have decided to put the information on here for everyone. I am certainly not an "expert" on homeschool materials and methods, but I will tell you what I do.

This year will be my 5th year of teaching our children, with our 6 year old (almost 7) going into 3rd grade, the 5 year old into 1st, and the 3yr old starting K4 or K5 (I haven't decided on that yet - maybe I will have him start K4 at double speed and have him finish in K5 by school year's end).

There are several curricula that I can recommend, but all of them have their drawbacks and I do not use the same publisher for all subjects.

- Landmark Baptist Freedom Curriculum (LFBC): Put out by a local, independent, fundamental Baptist church. advantages: KJV only, inexpensive, easy to follow, can be very well self-taught by student, not too time intensive, teaches reading well in Kindergarten; disadvantages: not very colorful or engaging to younger children, hard to find used on ebay etc., can be not enough challenging for advanced/lazy students, all books are consumables

I used this publisher in K4, K5, and 1st grade for our oldest, but am not currently using it at all.

- A Beka: I am talking about their book materials, not the DVDs. advantages: KJV only, mostly conservative appearance (i.e. clothing), very well prepared and colorful, especially engaging for younger students, great teacher materials, can easily be found used (making it much cheaper), some books are not consumable and can be used again and again, materials can be previewed in person at materials' displays; disadvantages: expensive if bought new, a little complicated to figure out what you need because of the vast selection, not easily self-taught in lower grades, can be very time consuming for parent

- Bob Jones University Press: Again, I am only talking about their books. advantages: KJV only,
conservative appearance in certain subjects, very well prepared and colorful, great teacher support materials, can easily be found used; disadvantages: much more "liberal" approach in certain subjects, expensive

So far, these are the only publishers I have used. I would never use a curriculum that does not use KJV verses only, even if my kids know that other versions are wrong. On the other hand, there are KJV only curriculums like "Rod and Staff" that I would not use because they are put out by Mennonites etc. who believe in Lordship salvation and do not believe in eternal security. So even though this is a very conservative, old-fashioned curriculum I would never expose my children to that kind of false doctrine. I know a lot of people also like to use ACE School of Tomorrow, but I have not yet used any of their materials for homeschooling and thus don't have an opinion on it.

Also, I do not recommend using any computer/DVD/satellite based programs, especially for young students. For one, that's not really me teaching the children. Although I am very much in favor of self-study, these courses are not self taught as much as taught by another adult on the screen. Second, I would never set my kids in front of something that I have not personally previewed, so it wouldn't even save any time at all. Thirdly, the cost is mostly astronomical.

Next, I will list you my favorite publisher for each subject. This is what I used last year, and will be using again this year with only minor changes.

- Bible: No bought curriculum. Even the one from LFBC had doctrinal mistakes in the 1st grade book. Instead, I read the Bible to the kids each day at a rate of reading it through once per year. I have a "One Year Bible" that has an OT portion, a NT portion, a Psalm and a passage from Proverbs for each day of the year, which I find very helpful in staying on track. In addition, the kids listen to preaching CDs from my husband every day, and also all work on Bible memory. For better retention, I recommend memorizing passages rather than individual verses. Solomon is also reading through the NT on his own for the first time this year. He started Jan. 1st and is up to date and on track. When I looked over his Bible today, I was thrilled to see that the pages from Matthew 1 - Luke 22 are very worn and show many highlighted, underlined, and otherwise marked verses.

- Math: I used LFBC in the past, which was great, but moved a little too slow. I found the same to be true with A Beka, and I didn't like the "crazy" appearance of the Bob Jones Math curriculum. I have since switched all kids to "Harcourt Math", which is a secular publisher but that does not come into play in a subject like math. They have really enjoyed those materials. I bought them used on Amazon because the publisher only sells them to schools.

- Science: I like both A Beka (starts in K) and Bob Jones (starts in 1st grade), and usually do both in each given grade since they each only have about 60 lessons per year.

- English/Phonics/Reading: I like the A Beka Kindergarten reading program, which would be very well suited to teach children at different levels at the same time. The extra materials like flashcards, charts, etc. are pretty expensive, but can be found used online or made yourself. In higher grades, I find that the grammar is too repetitive and moves forward too little, so this year I will switch our 3rd grader to the Bob Jones English which seems much more advanced. Our 1st grader will stay in A Beka. You would have to be very selective with any reader in any program, since they may contain stories that you don't approve of.

- History (starting in 1st grade): I love the Bob Jones history curriculum - it is the best I have found so far hands down. Again, you could teach more than one child at the same time very easily.

- Spelling (starting in 1st grade): A Beka

- Writing/Penmanship (starting in K4) - A Beka

- Health, Safety, Manners (starting in 1st grade): A Beka - This is really more of a fun subject, and can be expanded to include P.E. The kids love it!

- Art (starting in K) - A Beka - Again, it's more for fun than academics. I have tons of craft and art books for kids, but I like to buy the A beka books because they "jump start" the activity. I can make a different craft with all three of the kids simultaneously in 30 minutes or less. Before, art would be one of those subjects that usually fell by the wayside because of time constraints, materials, organization, etc.

- Music: Our oldest does weekly piano lessons with his dad, and is learning very well. We might start the 5 year old on lessons soon since he is also showing an interest. I will also start teaching both of them music theory in a weekly music lesson starting this fall using the piano theory books by Bastien.

In addition, the kids also learn German from me, and I try to involve them in a lot of housework/cooking/cleaning so that they will know how to do these as an adult. Every parent has unique talents and abilities such as gardening, sewing, woodworking etc. that they can and should pass down to their kids "on the side".

There may be a homeschool convention in your area each year that has displays from dozens if not hundreds of publishers. I plan on going to one for the first time this summer. You can check out the website of Home School Legal Defense Association to see if there are any conventions in your area, as well as look up the specific laws pertaining to homeschooling in your state.

Another thing I would like to mention are home school support groups that probably exist in your area. I personally do not belong to any such group, and would not recommend joining one unless it is organized and headed by your local church, with only church members in the group. Anything else would lead to you taking field trips, participating in group sports, and other such activities with others who calls themselves "Christian", but may be anything from Mormon to Lutheran and the like. As our church grows, I would like to start such a group for families in our church. I have also started gathering teaching materials for a homeschool lending library of books that could be used by members of our church to help cut down on their costs.

Don't let anyone discourage you about homeschooling. It is the only right choice. My husband, who went to Christian schools (seven different ones), public schools, and was homeschooled for one year, says that the Christian schools were by far the worst and most corrupt. When we were first married, I helped out in our church's Christian school for a year. I saw first hand how the worst kids will seek out the nicest, most "sheltered" students and try hard to corrupt them. I have heard similar accounts from other former Christian school teachers. There is always a push for more enrollments because that means more money coming in, and more control over the families in the church whose kids are enrolled.

I don't think homeschooling is a better or safer option, I think it is the only Biblical approach to educating children. There is a clear mandate in the Bible that we are to teach our children ourselves. "Thou" in the Bible is always talking to ONE person, as opposed to "you" which is addressing more than one person.

Deu 6:7 "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

Deu 11:19 "And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Natural remedies for kidney problems

As it turns out, my husband has a kidney infection on both sides. Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds. I tend to get them on my right side a lot when I am pregnant because all or our babies seem to like to "make their nest" there. So over the years I have learned how to deal with an acute infection myself rather than immediately going to the doctor.

This is not professional medical advice. If your symptoms get worse, or don't improve after 24 hours of treatment, you must see a doctor right away. Kidney infections can become dangerous very fast, and can leave you with life-long damage if not cleared up properly.

- Uva ursi: Can be taken as liquid extract and/or drunk as tea. Drink the tea as hot as you can tolerate, and follow with equal amounts of filtered water. Aim for 2 quarts of tea per day. Uva ursi capsules take a few days to start working and are not advisable.

- Corn silk tea: Simply husk fresh ears of corn, and brew the corn silk with hot water to make tea. One corn husk will make about 2 cups of tea. Again, follow with equal amounts of water.

- Kidney tea: Mix equal parts of the following, all of which can be found in the bulk herb section of good health food stores and herb shops: uva ursi, corn silk, marshmallow root, and dandelion root.

- Cranberry: Can either be drunk as tea or juice. If you get the juice, be sure to get 100% cranberry juice with no added sugar. Cranberry juice cocktail is NOT good for you, nor should you get a mixture that (although all juice) contains other juices for added sweetness, such as white grape or apple juice. Only 100% cranberry juice will help you get better. Aim for three or more cups per day.

- Solaray Kidney blend: This is pretty easy to find at most health food stores. Very effective and fast-acting.

- Heat: You can apply heat to your kidneys by wrapping a wool scarf around your waist. You can also make a quick heat pack by filling a cotton sock with white rice, putting a knot in the top, and heating it in the microwave for 2 minutes. This can be used again and again.

- Diet: Avoid all refined carbs such as sugar, white flour, etc. You should also avoid all dairy products except for soured ones (yogurt, sour cream, etc.). Try to eat as many raw foods as possible, and avoid animal proteins to give your kidneys a break.

- Rest: Lying down is by far your best option. Even sitting can be strenuous, and constricts the flow to and from your kidneys.

You should notice improvement within 8-12 hours of starting aggressive treatment. It is important to continue the therapy for at least a week to avoid a flare-up of the most resistant bacteria. Again, if your symptoms worsen or do not improve within 24 hours, seek medical treatment immediately.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You sure have your hands full!

Does it bother you when you get that comment in public? It sure bugs me. You just never know what to say because yes, your hands probably are full holding a baby, pushing a grocery cart loaded to the brim, having to lug a purse the size of Texas, or whatever the case may be. But if you say "Well yes, they are" it is understood that you mean you don't want your hands to be full. If you say "No, they are not" it's probably not true, or the other person will think it's not really true.

Sometimes I just smile and don't say anything, and then people will try to fill the void by saying something positive like "... but that's a good thing." Other times I smile and say, "Yes, but I don't mind." Still, the comment bothers me, and maybe it shouldn't.

Here is a list of some funny comebacks I found on the internet for those of you who are more confrontational than me. At least I can daydream about using one of them in the future.

You have your hands full!

  • Yes, happily so!
  • Yes, and my heart too.
  • Don't say anything, just look puzzled at your hands. (This does obviously not work if you are carrying a baby :-)
  • Yes, but I would rather have my hands full than empty!

Are they all yours?

  • No, this is not all of them, my oldest is at home with the triplets.
  • No, a couple of them started following us a few minutes ago.
  • No, I picked up a couple extra in the produce aisle.
  • Wow, I never heard that question before!
  • Of course they're all mine. Do you think I take six (or fill in your number) kids shopping for fun?
  • YES!
  • Yes, they are all ours. We have been married for 22 years, but only have 11 kids to show for it.
  • No..........I have two more at home! (When it fits)
  • Yes, and they're such good kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (the kids love that one!)
  • Of course they are..wait..who is that one?Hes not ours.....oh,yeah,#5,I forgot I had him.
  • I don't know. How many do you count?
  • Yes, and this one (pointed to my belly) is too.
  • No. I've been an avid collector for years and just picked these up in the food court!

Are you going to have more?

  • Why do you want to know?
  • Well, not today.
  • We are trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records of (add whatever here) most kids, largest family living in one house, etc.
  • Yes, I always want just one more.
  • Well, we do have a twelve passenger van.
  • Check back in nine months and you'll see for yourself.

Don't you know what causes that?

  • No, please tell me!
  • Of course, don't you?
  • Oh yes, we finally figured it out and we now keep the tooth brushes in seperate glasses!
  • It's in the water. Would you like a glass?
  • Yes and I know WHO causes it! God gave us these children!

Are you going to get fixed?

  • Nope, I am not broken!
  • Why do you want to know?
  • Huh, we thought everything was working fine for us!?!
  • We didn't know anything was broken.
  • Don't you only fix things that aren't working properly?
  • Well as you can see be the size of OUR family everything is in working order. :)(You have to say this last one with the kinda "I'm not to bright so your question seems kinda foolish don't you think?" attitude.

I can't believe how you do it, I cannot even handle my two!

  • Yes, if I had kids like you, I wouldn't have any more either!
  • Yes, you don't strike me as the type who could handle more kids than that.
  • I put knobs on the kids. Makes them easier to handle.
  • With lots of patience, patience, patience
  • Go and look at them while they're sleeping. This reminds me of what sweet children of God they are and keeps me going!
  • Oh, I just do it. Wake up in the morning, do what you have to do all day, go to bed when it's done.
  • Oh, straight jackets and handcuffs!

Are you planning to have any more?

  • I've been wondering about this and maybe you can explain it to me: I always thought you had to plan NOT to have more.
  • Before we were married we planned on having 2, but I didn't know that my husband couldn't count!
  • We didn't plan the first six, I don't think we'll plan the next six, either.

I hope you aren't planning to have anymore?!?

  • Talk to God about it... it's up to Him.
  • Well, we do have room in our van for 2 more.
  • OK, I won't plan my next one. Surprises can be fun!
  • Yup we are going to keep going till we get an ugly one.

Haven't you heard of birth control?

  • Yes, and I thank God it doesn't always work!
  • Yes, I've heard of it, I hope you are using it!
  • Yes, that's great stuff for people with ugly kids!
  • Oh yes, we do know what birth control is; it's for people who don't want children.

Don't you have a television?

  • No, it's much funner watching the kids.
  • No, we have much better things to do than sit around a little box all day.
  • Television? What is that?

How can you afford having so many?

  • Lifestyles are expensive not kids.
  • We're not on welfare, in huge amounts of debt, and no, my husband is not a doctor or lawyer. We just budget well.
  • I figure you spend what you make, you may as well spend it on more.
  • " You don't know my financial backer!" (Our God, of course)
  • I'm still not sure how we do it...but it works!

Look at that double trouble! (for twins)

  • No, they are double blessings!

I am glad it is you and not me!

  • Yes, me too!
  • My kids are glad it's me and not you too! ;-)
  • Oh me too! I love being a mother! and smile real BIG!

When people just keep staring at your family....

  • No, we're not Catholic. No, we're not Mormon.
  • Yes, they all are mine!
  • No, we don't try to overpopulate the earth, just to outnumber the idiots!

Recent photos

Last Saturday, we took the kids to downtown Scottsdale. It is an old cowboy town with many unique little stores. The boys most enjoyed seeing "The Singing Cowboy". We have seen him perform tricks with his horse Dusty at a library before, and the kids have been pretending to be him ever since.

Here is a video clip of John pretending to be a singing cowboy. Notice the slippers... John has a very "special" sense of taste when it comes to clothing.

The kids also had lots of fun splashing through a little artificial creek running through the nearby park. Of course, they got soaking wet and we had to go home after that.

On Wednesday night, the kids and I went on a work trip to Southern California with my husband. The kids love sleeping at hotels and will be happy to travel 6 hours each way to be able to do so. We got home again late on Thursday evening.

I am still working on converting the former office into the new school room. With all the sickness going around I just have not been able to finish that. We should be done with our current school year mid-May, so if nothing else I can get more projects done around the house after that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Improving your family's diet

One of the concerns on probably every mother's mind is making sure that her children eat healthy, nutritious food. But time constraints, cost, and picky eaters often get in the way of good intentions.

Here, I would like to share some of the changes I have made in our family's diet over the years in order to get everyone to eat healthier.

1. Read EVERY food label

This is probably the most important point. I literally read every food label before I buy a product, unless it's something I buy all the time and know to be "safe".

If a food contains any of the following, it will never make it into my cart:

- preservatives (about 90% of ready cereals on the shelf)
- hydrogenated fats
- high fructose corn syrup
- artificial colors and/or flavors

I also don't buy anything that has an extremely long ingredient list, even if none of them is "that bad". And I never buy anything that has ingredients coming from China.

Many of these items can be bought in an all-natural alternative if you check the shelf carefully. For example, all main-brand ready taco shells at my local grocery store either contain preservatives or use hydrogenated oil. The store brand ones contain only corn, corn oil, and salt. Not only are they cheaper, but they also taste better and are healthier.

If you can't find a healthy alternative at the grocery store, try a health food store instead. You will be surprised to find that the prices are not much different. For example, Hormel pepperoni at the store costs about $3 for a small package, but it contains preservatives. At my local health food store, the butcher makes his own all natural pepperoni without preservatives, nitrites, etc. It only keeps for a few days, but the same batch costs only about $1.50 and is enough to make two very large pizzas.

When you are first getting started you will need to invest some time into comparing prices and ingredients, but you will be a "pro" in no time. I know exactly what to get at which store now.

2. Try to include organic

Many people have the idea that if you can't buy all your food in organic, it's not worth buying any organic at all. Rather, you should go easy on your food budget and over time try to replace more and more conventional foods with organic. Of course, there will be times when the family's finances are tough and you may not be able to buy any organic, but you should not have an all-or-nothing attitude.

If you look around health food stores in your area, you may find that the organic produce on sale is actually cheaper than conventionally grown produce at the grocery store. You could also look into joining a food co-op in your area. Most health food stores also have bulk foods that cost less than the pre-packaged conventional alternative (e.g. quick oats, flours, raw sugar, dry beans, etc.).

The most expensive organic items are dairy and meats, so you may prefer to save money by cutting back on how much of these you eat. Personally, I buy all my meat at Sam's Club because the quality is excellent, the meat is all from the US (unlike Wal-Mart, who gets their meat from China), and the prices are great. I would eventually like to switch to organic meat, but for now this will have to do. Sam's Club and Costco also sell milk that is from cows not treated with growth hormones. Again, not organic, but better than what you get at the store for that price.

3. Serve 7 - 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day

Conventional or organic, you should include lots of produce in your family's diet. In our family, the rule is to have one fruit and one vegetable with every meal. That's in addition to any vegetables that the dish may already contain.

I have found that divided trays with 3 or 4 compartments are a tremendous help to stick with this goal. You just don't feel right setting a tray in front of the kids that only has something in one of the four compartments. It is important to remember never to reheat food on plastic trays in the microwave, since this can break the plastic down and contaminate the food.

These extra servings of fruits and vegetables do not have to be another side dish that you have to cook. There are many quick fixes, such as: unsweetened apple sauce, sliced apples or pears, tangerine or orange slices, diced pineapple, strawberries, diced melon, baby carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, sliced bell pepper, etc.

Juice is not a good alternative to real fruit, and should not be viewed as such. One cup per day is plenty.

When your kids ask for a snack between meal time, offer them fruits. They may really enjoy dried fruit such as raisins, dried cherries, and banana chips.

4. Start early

This is another very important point. It is much easier to teach your child right habits from the start then to try and "deprive" them of all the junk once they are older.

Our kids have never had conventional cereals, except for when we go on vacation and I let them eat that stuff at the hotel for an event. To this day, they think that everyone eats plain Cheerios, hot cereal (cooked with milk instead of water), or something home cooked for breakfast. They don't feel deprived at all, in fact, they love those foods.

At meal time, I have to force the kids to eat some of the main course rather than just their fruits and vegetables. This would probably make every vegetarian's stomach turn, but my kids are all so skinny and I have to make sure they get some "real" substance.

Don't worry too much if your baby hates the jars of baby food. They ARE pretty disgusting. Rather, introduce him/her to soft, mashed fruits and vegetables from the table, such as bananas, avocado, pureed fruit, small pieces of melon, steamed carrots, mashed peas, etc.

If you have older kids and their palates are used to the junk, try replacing it over time with all-natural versions of the stuff they crave, while working on cutting some of it out.

5. Eliminate junk food out of your house

You could ease "food wars" with your children by not buying certain items in the first place, such as snack cakes, any ready bakery items such as cinnamon rolls, cookies, etc., ready cookies such as Oreos, Keebler, etc., any kind of soda - the list is endless (see point 1 above). If whining and begging at the store is an issue, you need to get to the root of it, which is a lack of discipline. Or you could leave them at home while you shop.

Instead of buying this stuff, you could make most of it yourself at home.


- Instead of soda, try mixing equal parts of juice with carbonated water or unsweetened fruit or herb tea. My favorites are apple cherry juice with carbonated water, and apple juice with peppermint tea on ice.

- If you prefer the taste of pancake syrup to that of maple syrup (as I do), make your own at home from simple recipes that can be found on the internet. Tastes better, and has no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup in it.

- All desserts should be baked at home since there are almost none that can be considered healthy (Whole Foods carries some, but the prices are astronomical). If you must use white flour, you can at least switch to unbleached white flour. Personally, I love using whole wheat pastry flour, which (unlike regular whole wheat flour) is made from soft wheat and ground much finer. Your cakes and pastries will turn out light and fluffy and not have the overly nutty flavor that many whole wheat products have. If you have the money, you could invest in a high-end grain mill, such as the Nutrimill. After 8 years of marriage, I am still dreaming of that one.

6. Switch to whole grains

As I already mentioned above, you can make this switch pretty painless by using whole wheat pastry flour in all your baked goods. Baking your own bread is an excellent and healthy hobby, and your family will love you for it. It also saves a lot of money since a ready-bought healthy loaf costs about $3-4.

Replacing pasta and rice is pretty easy with the wide selection of products at the store. I like to use quick-cooking rice because regular brown rice takes about an hour or more to cook. If your family doesn't like the taste of a particular brand of whole wheat pasta, try a different brand until you find one they like.

Crackers and such can be found in whole grain alternatives at the health food store, often for about the same price.

If you live in a hot and/or humid climate, you should store your bread products and flours in the fridge to keep the bugs out of them.

7. Offer only healthy drinks

I serve the kids milk with every meal. If they get the milk at breakfast in their cereal, they can have one cup of juice. Between meals they can only drink water. Getting enough water is an important habit that you should teach your children now. We literally never buy soda (unless someone is sick and needs Sprite). If we go out to eat and the kids are mellow, I let them have one cup of soda, after which they can only get refills of water. If they are already wild, or it is close to bedtime, the last think I would dream about giving them is more sugar.

The only exception to this is some healthy soda from the health food store. Most of the stuff even from there is just a bunch of sugar water, but there are a couple of brands that are sweetened with only a little cane juice and made all naturally. Consequently, this is a very rare treat because a 4-pack sells for $4-6.

8. Cook from scratch

It saves money, it tastes better, and it's healthier. It's a way to show your family that they are worth your time and effort. It shows your love. "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is still true today. Do you want him to be in love with Stouffers, Banquet, Hungry Man, Chef Bonyarde, Ramen, or you?

9. Make changes gradually

Finally, don't overwhelm yourself or your family by going all natural overnight. Start with changes that seem the easiest, and add new changes over time. You don't have to tell anyone that the pasta in the dinner is actually whole wheat, or that you used a different flour to make the cake. Give their palates a chance to get adjusted.

At the same time, you ARE the parent and shouldn't tolerate a bratty or unthankful attitude toward wholesome food. If my kids ever complain about the food, I tell them that they may go out to the back alley and eat whatever they can find in the garbage can, just like many other children the world over have to. It gets them to stop griping really fast.

Over time, you will notice that you no longer want to drive through somewhere for lunch. Personally, I have not had any fast food whatsoever in years. In fact, you may find that you get sick to your stomach after eating there because you are used to eating better.

So do yourself and your family a favor, and start improving everyone's diet TODAY.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Calling all Faithful Word Baptist Church listeners

Apparently, someone who listens to all of my husband's sermons via the internet has started a group for "Faithful Word Baptist Church Listeners". I was sent an invitation to join the group, which is still just getting established. Off to the right, just below the family picture and the profile, you can follow the link to join this group.

Each month, the sermons get downloaded in excess of 15,000 times (including iTunes). We also receive several e-mails on a daily basis from people who listen to the sermons. So we know that there are many listeners from all over the world. If you are interested in getting to know some of them, and finding people who believe like you do, please consider joining this group.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More sickness

So Miriam finally got well. There was one night early this week when John threw up a little, and then ran a fever all night long, but by the morning he was fine again. I thought the sickness had left the rest of the family unscathed.

Well, I was shopping at Sam's Club yesterday and about to leave when the kids talked me into letting them eat lunch there. Personally, I find the food much too greasy, but it sounded nice not to have to fix lunch for them. We had just sat down for a couple of seconds when Isaac suddenly started violently throwing up. He missed the guy at the table next to us by about a foot or so. With four kids, this incident wasn't even embarrassing enough to make me flush. Instead, I was secretly glad he threw up in the store rather than in the van. Mental note: keep a trash can in every row of the van for future incidents like this.

Other than running a fever for the rest of the day, Isaac seemed fine. Then it was my turn to get sick, but I spare you the details. Not fun when you are already struggling with morning sickness that gets worse when you don't (or, in this case, can't) eat.

At 6 PM I decided to get everyone down for bed, and after I read the Bible to all the kids for a long time I finally turned the lights out and fell asleep just before 8 PM.

Shortly after midnight, I woke up to the VERY familiar sound of a child throwing up in bed. It was Solomon, who was lying in my husband's spot next to me. (When my husband is out of town the older kids take turns sleeping in his spot). Thankfully, he missed the baby that was sleeping by my side between us. I grabbed the bucket from the foot of the bed, but by then Solomon was pretty much done. I spent the next half hour cleaning up Solomon, changing the sheets, scrubbing my BRAND NEW mattress, putting on fresh sheets, and then covering everything in fresh towels in case he got sick again. All while the baby was screaming her lungs out. I then instructed Solomon that when you feel like throwing up, you should try to throw up over the bucket, rather than just get up on all fours and throw up in your spot. (Am I the only one whose kids do that??) I was just going to turn out the lights when I heard him start throwing up AGAIN. Only this time, he had tried to get his head over the bucket at the foot of the bed, but I forgot to tell him to keep his mouth shut while doing so. Consequently, he threw up down the length of the bed on the fresh comforter and sheets before reaching the foot of the bed. I cleaned everything up again, and yes, the baby was still just screaming. I then moved Solomon to his regular bed and put the bucket on the floor an inch from where his face was. About 1:30 AM I turned the lights out again. I was just dozing off when Solomon threw up for the third time, this time thankfully not messing up the bed at all. Since he kept throwing up the water that he was so eager to drink I got up to fix him some Sprite with Pedialyte in it. I think we finally fell asleep for good sometime after 2 AM.

Thoughts of having to deal with all that dirty laundry kept haunting me throughout the night. There are two comforters, two complete sets of sheets, 3 pillows, and about 12 towels that need to be washed today in addition to my regular 3 daily loads. I think I would rather spend the day at the dentist than touch that stuff again. Here is a picture of most (but not all) of it:

But alas, such are the joys of a mother of four young children!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Make a joyful noise

Here are a couple of hilarious clips of Solomon and Isaac singing. Be sure to watch the second one until the end! By the way, the red thing that Isaac is using to play the guitar is a plastic paper clip.

On a different note, Miriam has finally recovered. My main goal right now is to "fatten her up" a little since she needs to gain at least 5 lbs back. I'd hate for her to get sick again when she has nothing on her bones.

I finally managed to empty out all four kids' closets this week, as well as to get all their current clothes sorted, hung, and put away. It took me an entire day to do it but now they can once again dress themselves without my help.

There are still plenty of projects left to do around the house, and I will probably not get it all done this week, but I guess I'm looking at the glass being half full rather than half empty.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mormonism, FLSD, and polygamy

Certainly, everyone out there has been reading or hearing about the recent raid on an FLDS ranch in Texas. Hundreds of children were removed after a supposed call to a family violence shelter, which now some claim was really just an anonymous outsider trying to get the police involved.

All these news articles are careful to draw a distinction between the LDS and the FLDS, the latter being the fundamental branch that separated from the LDS long ago. The two are not affiliated at all. Or so they say.

The fact of the matter is that the FLDS simply continues to believe the exact teachings of the founding fathers of Mormonism, while the LDS is the "liberal" branch who (although likewise claiming to follow Joseph Smith et al.) pick and choose which beliefs they still accept and which they don't practice any more in order to comply with U.S. law. But even the LDS believes that they will be living much like the FLDS members do now once they enter eternity.

Here is an interesting YouTube video explaining the strange doctrines underlying Mormonism:

Of course, the practice of polygamy is entirely unbiblical. Yet, I have heard people who call themselves Christians wonder whether God condoned it in the Old Testament, or whether maybe it is a biblical concept. I have even heard arguments in favor of polygamy, such as men having to really make an effort to prove they are good husbands, since there will be a shortage of women if one guy can just swoop up on a half dozen or more women, leaving the next guy empty-handed. I guess that holds true about as long as they are "dating", but then it seems the women are stuck having to compete for the affections of one man. Better not burn the dinner or have a bad day, honey! Everyone knows that a single guy is much more attentive to the whims of his future wife than that same guy will be once he is married. How much more must that be true when the guy gets to pick who to spend the evening with every night!

Of course, the Bible holds the answer when it says:

Mat 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
Mat 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Mat 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mar 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
Mar 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
Mar 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
Mar 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God only gave Adam one wife, Eve. I think even Mormons would have a hard time arguing that God intended for Adam to later marry one of his own daughters, which would have been his only way of getting more wives. Just because the Bible records many men who had multiple wives does not mean that God condoned that practice. Those same men also were all liars, but does that mean that lying is not a sin?

People in today's society have multiple wives, only they have them one after the other as opposed to at the same time. I have personally known people that were on there 8th marriage. Many others commit fornication and later adultery, because these days you don't "have" to marry the woman any more. I guess back in the times of the OT the only legal and socially accepted way to have relations with multiple women was by marrying them since adultery and prostitution were punished harshly. I find just as disgusting as a guy with multiple wives the man who leaves his wife of many years (who is often also the mother of his children) and swaps her for another woman. Of course, that type of guy will eventually get bored again and move on from her as well. Some people are just never content and always want something newer and better, and sadly, that includes their spouse. At least the guy with the half dozen wives is still financially supporting all of them, rather than leaving their wife high and dry after she spent her life raising his kids. Again, both is revolting and disgusting, but it is amazing how polygamy is so taboo (as it should be) while divorce, remarriage, adultery and fornication are all legal and carry no penalty whatsoever.

Mormonism is NOT a Christian religion. It is a CULT.

Quick update

Miriam finally started getting better yesterday afternoon (Sunday), and is eating well again. She is still very weak because she lost several lbs and is now down to 17.7 lbs. She is walking, but is very wobbly and gets tired fast. But overall, she is improving very fast. Thank you to all who prayed.

As far as my arm goes, it was A LOT better after the chiropractor adjusted me on Saturday. In fact, it hardly hurt any more at all. She said not to carry the baby for the rest of the afternoon, but because Miriam was so sick and crying a lot I ended up having to carry her. By the evening, my arm was back to being in extreme pain and has been ever since. I am going to get adjusted again on Wednesday, hopefully it will start holding better as I go back for more adjustments in the next few weeks.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Prayer requests

Just a quick note to ask you all to pray for Miriam. She was very fussy last night and didn't want to eat much. She woke up this morning throwing up several times, and is sleeping right now. I'm sure it's just a stomach bug and nothing serious. She is drinking well, so dehydration is not an issue. But I do feel so bad for her.

Please also pray for me. It seems I have developed carpal tunnel in my left arm, which is apparently common during pregnancy. It doesn't bother me that much, except when I sneeze. Then my whole arm goes into extremely painful spasms. The fact that I have allergies and sneeze a lot makes it quite miserable. My midwife recommended seeing the chiropractor, and I am hoping to be able to get in tonight. Although I'm not sure how I would even manage to do that with four kids in tow (one sick). My husband won't be back until late tonight and can't help me with that.

Thank you!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Update and pictures

Life has been quite hectic this last month. It's hard to believe that April is almost half over! We have been doing a lot of "spring cleaning", which has been exhausting but rewarding. My husband is finally getting an office for his fire alarm business, which will free up our office at home. I plan on turning that into the school room, and turning the current school room into a bedroom for one of the older kids. So there are plenty more projects left to work on around the house. Also this weekend, our church is moving to a bigger building, which is very exciting.

As far as school goes, I am having the kids work extra in their books in order to have them finish the year by mid May. Because I am due in the middle of October, I plan on starting school again early this year, at the beginning of August.

The pregnancy is going well. I felt the baby move very distinctly today, although I have suspected a few earlier movements here and there. My fatigue has been improving as my iron levels are getting back to normal. I still get sick and have lots of crazy food cravings. My current favorite is Indian food from a curry place here in town.

It looks like I will soon become an American citizen. My appointment for this is in May. I am looking forward to this most of all because I will finally be able "to keep and bear arms"! We just had someone trying to get into our yard a few nights ago, but the dog scared them off. She can be REALLY mean!

Here are some recent pictures:

From Easter:

A friend of my husband sent us a HUGE package of gummy worms...

One night after I told the kids to get ready for bed, John showed up dressed like this announcing that he was "all ready!"

Another day, John was wearing his fireman outfit to the store. The fire department happened to be shopping there at the same time, and they asked him if he wanted to see their truck and sit in it.

At the zoo with the kids' Grandma (my husband's mom)

Miriam with her new necklace

Pictures from a different trip to the zoo. Doesn't the fence around the Siberian tiger look awfully low?? The mote is not even as wide as the one they had in San Francisco!

Solomon making giant bubbles

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The benefits of home birth

So I had my first prenatal today (other than having met with the midwife at a consultation to introduce her to my husband and make sure he was comfortable with her). It was nice because I got to hear the baby's heartbeat. I also found out that my extreme fatigue lately has been caused by anemia, something I get at some point with every pregnancy. I am very happy with the midwife I found after the one who attended Miriam's birth moved to Mexico a few months ago.

Having a homebirth midwife is entirely different from having an OB/GYN. For one, when you get to the appointment, the midwife is waiting for you rather than the other way around. An appointment takes 30-60 minutes, but I have had some that lasted longer than that if we were in a chatting mood. Over the course of the pregnancy, the midwife becomes a close and trusted friend, rather than an intimidating medical professional. The midwife considers it an honor to be invited to attend the birth, rather than making the mother feel that a healthy birth is only possible if the parents relinquish all medical authority to the omniscient physician.

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of home vs. hospital birth. If you follow this link you can find a conclusive list of all those studies and read the results for yourself. Personally, I have never understood the typical American mentality that doctors are all wonderful and great. This may very well stem from the national health care that I grew up with in Communist Hungary as a child, and the terrible care I received there. Which, by the way, is exactly where we are headed in this country. Anyone in favor of government health care should talk to members of the military and find out how well they like the care they are provided by Uncle Sam.

Anyway, after our first child was born in the hospital, I wasn't too keen on going back there with our second. My plans for a home birth were met by a lot of skepticism by both my husband and his family. My husband was afraid I would bleed to death, since I had hemorrhaged at the hospital. His family made it pretty clear that they thought it would be my fault if the baby died during a home birth. Like doing what women have done for hundreds, yea thousands of years had suddenly become a risky undertaking because a bunch of male doctors in the 19th century decided that all women should disrobe in front of them rather than another woman in order to have a baby. Well, I am happy to report that my husband has been nothing short of a homebirth activist since our 2nd child was born at home, as were 2 more children after that. I am fairly confident that 2 of those 3 births would have ended in a C-section had I given birth at the hospital. I am not at all saying that moms who have a C-section are bad moms, but I just prefer not to undergo such a major surgery unless it is really necessary.

But safety concerns aside, a birth at home is also much more enjoyable. No more wondering whether it is time to go to the hospital, and being worried about getting turned away. You can eat and drink whatever you want. You are in a comfortable, familiar environment. No interns are popping their head in your room every few minutes. No fighting with them that no, they can't do an internal exam on you, especially not all these men. Did you know that they have to get a certain number of each procedure done in order to complete their internship? You can relax in the comfort of a birthing pool rather than putting drugs in your and the baby's system by way of an epidural. Something I consider recreational drug use, since it is in no way medically necessary unless you are having a C-section.

During labor, the midwife is hanging out with the family, maybe knitting a hat for the new baby or telling funny stories from other births. She may be cooking a meal to eat after the birth or brewing some tea to bring on the mom's milk. When labor is getting hard, she is there to encourage rather than supervise.

After the birth, the baby never leaves your side. No warming bassinet, shots, blood tests, eye drops etc. The baby is measured and weighed on the bed next to mom and dad, once they have all had a chance to get to know each other. The midwife will then "clean up the mess", which is actually not much at all, and tuck mom and baby into the freshly made bed. Siblings can meet their new brother or sister almost immediately after the birth. The whole atmosphere is very quiet and relaxed. No flashing diodes, beeping monitors, bright floodlights etc. Recovery is much easier and faster, too.

If you are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant, you should definitely look into home birth as a safe alternative to a hospital birth.